How to live healthy as possible with hepatitis C or HIV - There are many reasons why people want to connect with other people and services. Emotional support, practical help and spiritual support of his family and relatives, counselors and spiritual leaders as Aboriginal elders or ministers can make life with hepatitis C or HIV easier. For their part, other people with hepatitis C and HIV can share with you how they live with the virus every day.
How to live healthy as possible with hepatitis C or HIV
You should regularly consult a doctor or other health care provider. Hepatitis C and HIV are serious medical conditions that require regular medical care. Hepatitis C damages the liver, an organ without which life is impossible. Called severe liver damage cirrhosis, and it can cause liver failure or liver cancer. HIV weakens the immune system so the body has more difficulty fighting infections, some of which can kill you.
You can live for several years with hepatitis C or HIV without feeling sick, but know that the virus is damaging your body. Having hepatitis C or HIV puts you at risk of other health problems too, including heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems and bone disorders.
The good news is that it is possible to cure hepatitis C in many people, and there are medicines that help control HIV. By regularly consulting a doctor or other health worker, you can live long and healthy.
If you want more information on services in your area, visit www.vhc411.ca or www.vih411.ca or the CATIE Web site www.catie.ca or call us at 1-800-263-1638 ( we accept collect calls from Canadian prisons).
A healthy diet is an essential way to promote good health. This can be difficult if you do not have much money or secure housing, but there are cheap ways to get the food you need.
- Try to eat some fruit or vegetables every day. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper when they are in season. For example, apples and carrots are in season in the fall, while spinach and plums are best in the summer. For some people, the berry picking is part of their culture, and this is a great way to eat more fruits;
- Try to eat protein every day. Affordable varieties include peanut butter, beans, eggs, tofu and canned fish, including tuna. If hunting and fishing are activities that you enjoy or that are part of your culture, this can be a good way to get protein;
- Bread and pasta are cheap and provide a good dose of energy; prefer them whole grain products such as brown bread or whole wheat pasta or rice;
- You do not have a fridge or stove? There are a variety of nutritious foods that keep well and do not need to be cooked, such as breads and bagels, peanut butter or nuts, granola bars, milk powder, tuna or canned salmon, canned beans, raisins, bananas and apples;
- When you use drugs, drink high-calorie drinks like milkshakes, chocolate milk or soy beverage. Eat as healthy as possible;
- Plan ahead. Before spending money on drugs, try to buy foods that are preserved as long as oatmeal, peanut butter, soups and stews box;
- Ask friends, stakeholders and health advisors to offer you food resources - it is possible that they know soup kitchens, food banks or food free sharing services.
If you experience any health problems such as weight loss, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, see A Practical Guide to Nutrition for People Living with HIV to get practical advice. also see the guide entitled "The addiction and recovery."
Try to drink plenty of water every day, especially if you drink alcohol or are taking ecstasy, cocaine or amphetamines. This may be difficult if you do not have access to potable water. If this is the case, nutritious juices and milk are good options. Water can help the body metabolize nutrients and causes the liver works less hard to eliminate waste. The lack of water (dehydration) can cause fatigue. Alcohol, coffee and other drinks containing caffeine (such as certain liqueurs) are not good substitutes because they cause the body loses water.
Multivitamins can provide more vitamins to your body when you are not able to eat all the time. Consult your doctor before you start taking it. To save money, buy a generic brand cheap or check with a local organization of Community Health, a clinic or a pharmacy on the possibility of obtaining free. In some cases, vitamins are subsidized by the public or private health insurance plans.
Exercise increases energy and reduces stress. Start with a simple activity you enjoy, such as walking, dancing or swimming in a public pool.
Sometimes people who are in treatment against hepatitis C or HIV feel very tired. If this happens, make easy stretches, sitting, or walking for a few minutes. Remember that every little bit counts.
Some people are already doing a lot of exercise every day. This is often the case for homeless people who have to travel far to walk.
How to live healthy as possible with hepatitis C or HIV To sleep
Sleep helps the body heal and fight infections. Some drugs, including crack, cocaine, amphetamine and crystal meth, provide some alertness and self-esteem for a long time, but they also risk compromising sleep. Some drugs against hepatitis C or HIV are likely to cause sleep problems, like the stress of living with these infections. Finally, people with hepatitis C who have significant liver damage are apt to have trouble sleeping. Here are some tips to promote better sleep:
- If you are on the party, thinking of stopping your drug hours before the end of the night in order to sleep better;
- If you consume for a long period, try to limit the number of days you spend without sleeping;
- Try going to bed the same time every night; it helps the body to get used to a particular sleep pattern;
- Try to create a ritual before bedtime, such as drinking a glass of milk, listening to soft music or reading; it will signal your body that it's time to sleep;
- If you have trouble sleeping time, take naps;
- If you sleep outside, try to stay warm, dry and protected from the wind; try to keep the head, feet and hands covered;
- If you sleep in a shelter, try to get there early enough to find a quiet corner to sleep.
Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
Drugs, alcohol and tobacco harm the body. They can damage the liver and weaken the immune system. If you are living with hepatitis C or HIV, your body is already stressed by infection, so it is especially important to take care of your liver and your immune system. When they discover that they have hepatitis C or HIV, some people choose to change their drug use, drinking or smoking less or to stop once and for all.
Learning that you have hepatitis C or HIV might make you change your drug use habits. You may choose to consume less or replace hard drugs with safer options like marijuana. You may want to talk to your doctor about following a substitution treatment such as methadone or buprenorphine. You might even decide to stop. Whatever your choice, remember that there are people who can help.
Drink less alcohol is one of the best choices you can make for your health, especially if you have hepatitis C. Abstinence also improves the chances of doing well the treatment of this infection. If you want to make that change in your life, try different strategies to find the ones that suit you. Here are some suggestions:
- Set a limit of alcohol that you believe and stick to realistic;
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks with soft drinks like water;
- Change to smaller formats or drinks with lower alcohol content (beer to three percent instead of five, for example);
- Dilute spirits with juice, soft drinks or water;
- Seek support from a support group, an addiction treatment program or counselor.
Smoking harms the body a lot. It can be difficult to stop or reduce because the nicotine in cigarettes is addictive, but it is an important step to better health. If you want help to stop smoking or reduce, call 1-877-513-5333 to contact the Smokers' Helpline.
Acupuncture, massage, meditation and traditional Aboriginal healing methods (sweat lodges and medicinal plants, for example) are some examples of complementary therapies. Complementary therapies such as complementary or alternative medicine will not cure hepatitis C or HIV, but they can be helpful to your liver and your immune system, in addition to reducing stress and help alleviate side effects and the symptoms of the infection.
Some complementary therapies may be offered for free in local community health organizations, networks of people who use drugs and harm reduction programs.
If you want to use herbs or other supplements, talk first to your doctor or pharmacist because some of them may interact with drugs against hepatitis C or HIV. If this happens, your medicine could stop acting or side effects may worsen.
For more information, see the online complementary and hepatitis C therapies or order A Practical Guide to Complementary Therapies for People Living with HIV.
Taking care of your emotional health
Drug use can cause emotional ups and down. You also may face many events in life that disrupt your emotional health. Depression and anxiety affect many people. In addition, the side effects of drugs against hepatitis C and HIV can sometimes cause depression or anxiety. There are ways to alleviate the impact of drug use as well as treatments for depression and anxiety. The most important is to know that you're not alone. You can find help. Talk to someone you trust.
How to make less hard to live down. Some people who use drugs strongly encouraged to prepare for the trying times or "downs" to have at its disposal to essentially take over when depression or anxiety is manifested. Aside from your kit drug, consider creating a "kit for tough times" that contains elements that help you relax, such as soft music, a funny movie, a recorded meditation exercise or a special object that you gives strength. For some people, walking in nature helps them relax. Get enough sleep, eat healthy, spending time with family and exercising regularly are all strategies that help to cope with the "downs". A peer helper or harm reduction intervening may suggest strategies to deal with there. A peer helper or a harm reduction intervening might also suggest strategies for dealing with the stockings.
Sometimes the "downs" may be particularly difficult. If you are very depressed or feel like hurt you or kill you, talk about your feelings with someone you trust. Contact a doctor, a local organization of Community Health, a harm reduction program, an emergency department, a social worker or other place where you feel safe to share your thoughts and your feelings. That takes courage, but a bit of support helps you to manage those feelings. You can also call the emergency number in your area (usually 911).
Living with the effects of treatment on mental health. Some anti-HIV drugs can affect your mood.
If you feel your HIV treatment has an impact on your emotions and your mental health, talk to your doctor. It is possible that you can replace your medications with others that do not cause the same side effects. Some people find that regular discussions with a counselor or social worker (talk therapy) may be useful for treating depression and anxiety.
Depression is a potential side effect of hepatitis C treatment with pegylated interferon. Treatments that include only direct-acting antivirals (DAA) does not cause depression or anxiety. If you intend to follow an anti-hepatitis C therapy including pegylated interferon and you have already suffered from depression, talk to your doctor. The guidelines on the treatment of hepatitis C recommend taking antidepressants before starting hepatitis C therapy with peg-interferon.
Living with Pain
People living with hepatitis C or HIV are likely to experience pain at some point. It can be difficult to treat pain in people who use drugs because they often have a high pain tolerance or because some doctors do not want their prescribing painkillers.
People who take heroin or undergoing treatment with methadone or buprenorphine are likely to have a higher tolerance than normal pain and may need to take a higher dose of drugs against pain. If you are taking methadone or buprenorphine, some doctors will feel that you do not feel pain and therefore you will not prescribe enough painkillers. If a doctor believes that your pain is related to drugs or looking to just smash you, he may not want to treat you.
If you have difficulty working with your doctor to manage your pain, try to talk to him clearly and openly about your pain and your drug use. You may you be accompanied by a friend like, a peer helper or a health worker in order to have support. Note the following pain characteristics:
- Where is the pain?
- What is the intensity of pain on a scale of 1 to 10th?
- What times have pain?
- What times do you feel a pain?
- The pain she prevents you from doing your daily tasks - dressing, cooking, work, for example?
If you have hepatitis C, pay attention to your use of acetaminophen (Tylenol). This medication can harm the liver, and higher doses could be a problem if you have multiple liver damage. Talk with your doctor to know the painkillers that are best for you.